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  South By Southwest 2006 - Day 1 night  



Austin, TX


The Carrots, Headlights, Healthy White Baby, My Brother Kite, Sciflyer, The Birthday Massacre

Reviewed by:
  Tracers and PostLibyan  
Photographs by:



After feasting on sandwiches and coffee, we realized that there was no band we really wanted to see at 8 PM for the official start of SXSW. Tracers looked through the schedule and saw that one club had a local Austin act that was described as being like a 60s girl group. Now, i grew up with that sort of thing, so we decided to check them out. Besides, the club The Carrots were playing at was conveniently near Emo's Jr., where we wanted to see Headlights at 9 PM .


PostLibyan and I have an interesting approach to seeing bands at SxSW. We each pick out our "must see" bands, plot out our schedule, and then fill in the gaps somewhat randomly. Since, this year, I had only two "must see" bands, I ended up picking out most of our random bands. And, with what seems like a billion acts playing at any given time, it can be a challenge to decide who to see. In my case, my choices were based on a complicated mathematical algorithm (ha) based primary on: club location, band description, and of course band name. I like carrots, so The Carrots seemed like a good choice to me. Well that and the fact that one of the few times I've seen PostLibyan actually dance was to old Motown tracks being played between bands at The EARL one night….


So as we were waiting to get in i noticed that there was a group of girls dressed in lime green knit dresses walking past us. We got inside and there were two guys in matching lime green cardigans, with a small orange carrot embroidered on the lapel. So, The Carrots had matching outfits, which i guess is really keeping in the spirit of the era they are attempting to replicate.

Anyway, they are a 6 piece band, with a male rhythm section and girls on guitar, keys, backing, and lead vocals. The rhythm section had the sound dead on, creating that great thudding sound those early records had. The lead vocalist, a vaguely swarthy girl, had a wonderful voice, and she could really belt out the tunes. The backing vocalist harmonized really well with her, and it almost seemed like i was hearing Martha and the Vandellas live. They played a few original tunes but mostly concentrated on covers. Their originals sounded like lost classics from the era, and their covers were excellent. They did a great version of And Then He Kissed Me (with a small goof-up on the bridge, that the band laughingly moved through) and a spot on version of Mr. Postman, the lead vocalist really belting it out here. I really enjoyed The Carrots' performance.

The Carrots: singing in harmony.

The Carrots: singing and clapping.


I would like to reiterate that the main female vocalist of The Carrots had a wonderful voice. It has a rich timbre and a resonant quality that just echoed throughout the small club. With the spot on renditions and a goofy air, The Carrots began the festival on a high note.


After that auspicious start to the Festival, we headed down the street to catch Headlights. Of course, we had seen this act twice already, and reviewed both of their EPs on this website, but we really like them and did not want to pass up the opportunity for another performance. Tonight they played to a rather packed Emo's Jr., and they played as a 4-piece. Even though both of their EPs were recorded with a bassist, this is the first time we had seen them perform with one. I guess he normally doesn't tour with them or something.

Anyway, they were great tonight. They started with a blistering version of Put Us Back Together Right, and then they tore right into Centuries, both excellent songs that really seemed to get the crowd going. For the most part they played stuff off of their two EPs, with one notable exception. There was a song wherein the bassist played accordion while the drummer kicked out a steady new wave beat, the keyboardist pounded away at her keys, and the guitar flailed away with some feedback. Very fun, like Duran Duran trying to do a polka or something, but they pulled it off.

Headlights: everybody polka!


In general, I don't like to see bands I've seen fairly recently while at SxSW. Instead I'm focused on people who either don't come to Atlanta, or do so only rarely. Yet Headlights are so good that they are worth checking out any time you can see them, and I was very gratified to see them get a good reception on this evening. Yeah, I know most of the folks were there because it was Kork/Polyvinyl night at Emo's Jr, and both The Octopus Project and Saturday Looks Good to Me were playing later, but the people around me definitely seemed to like Headlights.


Overall, Headlights played a set of new wave rhythms and keys with heavily distorted shoegazery guitarwork accompanied by fine female vocals. Their sound isn't the most innovative thing in the world, but they bring an infectious energy that makes it very enjoyable. Indeed, the crowd that packed into Emo's Jr. to see them seemed really appreciative. Another fun set.

Headlights: rocking out.

Headlights: vocals.


After Headlights, we had another gap in our schedule, and I suggested another unknown band named Healthy White Baby. How can you not like a band the names itself after a phrase from Raising Arizona? And from looking at the crowd, as well as from the words of friends I ran into earlier, EvilSponge were not the only ones who had this thought.


We fled the increasingly crowded Emo's Jr. (Tracers inserts: "read: sold out Emo's Jr.") and headed up Red River Street to The Velvet Spade. Here we caught a set by the Chicago blues trio, Healthy White Baby. We went to see this band because their blurb in the SXSW Catalog said they had taken their name from Raising Arizona, and that's worth something in our book.

This band played loud, old school guitar rock. They were a three-piece, with a guy belting out the vocals and playing a beautiful old hollow-bodied guitar, a very energetic and talented drummer, and a female on bass. They played with a lot of reverb, and were rather fun for an old-fashioned rockabilly act.

Healthy White Baby: in action.

I must say that of the three of them, the drummer was the most fun to watch. He is obviously very skilled at this genre, and he was really pounding his kit. They ended their set with a cheesey cover: Back Where We Started From, the old Captain and Tenille song. Silly, but fun.


I like hollow body guitars. I like old-fashioned blues. I like rockabilly. And, man, I love me some reverb. Healthy White Baby had all of this in abundance. They were great and, as PostLibyan suggests, the drummer was a sight to behold. I keep moving within the crowd, just so I'd have a good view of the drummer's playing. Wow. Good choice.

Healthy White Baby: drummer getting into it!


At this point in time, we headed out to see World Party play at Exodus. However, the club was so crowded that we couldn't get on the floor to see anything. We ended up on the balcony, above and behind the band. We heard them play Message in a Box, and it sounded great. However, since we couldn't see anything, we headed out to the nighttime Clairecords showcase at Habanero Calle 6.

HC6 is a nice little cuban restaurant/bar with excellent cuban beers on draft. We walked in to catch the last half of the set by My Brother Kite. They played an energetic, highly distorted type of shoegaze. It was rather enjoyable.


I liked HC6 as a venue. The sound wasn't all that great, but the beer on tap was excellent, and there were places to sit! On the other hand, it seemed like it took Sciflyer forever to set up, which somewhat overshadowed their performance. This is SXSW, and unfortunately we're on a timeline, so any small speedbumps in setup can be… um… frustrating.


We stuck around the showcase chatting with the Clairecords crowd, and eventually Sciflyer took the stage. This is a three-piece shoegazer act from California. They played a lovely My Bloody Valentine-esque noise pop that was heavy on both the distortion and the melodies. I found them to be pretty good, for what they do.

Sciflyer rock the Cuban place.

However, EvilSponge headed out a bit early to go to Elysium to catch The Birthday Massacre, who are featured in one of most widely read reviews on this site. Elysium is a generic goth club with a fog machine -- perfectly appropriate for seeing a goth band from Toronto.

The Birthday Massacre, it turns out, are a 6-piece band, including a vocalist, two guitarists, a keyboardist, a bassist, and a drummer. The vocalist, Chibi, wore chunky goth-girl boots, while the 5 boys wore suits and black Chuck Taylors. As i watched them perform with rather exaggerated movements, it struck me that goth is the new glam. Half of the fun of the performance is the stage act and the costuming, and The Birthday Massacre certainly delivered on that account.

The Birthday Massacre: goth is the new glam.

They were fun. Energetic, catchy, silly, posing, and fun. I really enjoyed their set, and think that one of the highlights of the entire festival, for me personally, was seeing them perform the tune Play Dead. A truly great performance, and despite their mopey clothing, The Birthday Massacre are very nice people to boot.

After that show, it was time to head home and go to bed. A great start to the best music festival around.

Related Links:

Read the entire South by Southwest 2006 review:
    Day 1: Dayshow
    Day 1: Night showcases
    Day 2
    Day 3: Dayshow
    Day 3: Night showcases
    Day 4: Dayshow
    Day 4: Night showcases
Added bonus material:
    Photo gallery: Signs around Austin
    Photo gallery: hollow-bodied guitars at SXSW06
    Photo gallery: Pedal fetishism
In addition, some of these acts have been reviewed before. Links within the review point you to the appropriate places.


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